Storing contracts shouldn’t just be about having a repository of documents. Find out what contract storage should look like with these five tips.
Simply having a record of all contracts is a leap forward for many organizations. And while the benefits of contract management are much more robust on the whole, the storage aspect is a key ingredient.
Getting the entire contract dataset together is a prerequisite for analytics, spend optimization, and renewals.These five key elements of contract storage will help organizations ensure they are storing their contracts in the most efficient, effective way.
From the very beginning of a document’s creation, it should be tagged and put into a folder clearly labeling its contents. Having a document structure that is logical across an organization makes it easy for all teams to find exactly what they need. Moreover, storage is much easier because teams are all able to follow the same processes of organization once a contract is complete. No more storing on desktops and computer folders that only one person has access to—with a robust organization system, locating a contract becomes much simpler.
Beyond just an organization that involves clear document structure, finding a contract should be easy through an extensive search functionality. Being able to easily search and locate documents through the tags and folder names that they were organized in, or even by key words and phrases in their terms and conditions makes a process that used to take hours turn into just a few seconds. While many products offer some form of search, having OCR functionality is key for the best document storage and access. OCR captures an image of a document and makes it searchable. Meaning even legacy or hard copy contracts are now part of the overall dataset.
One of the core components of a contract is that at least two people, and often many more, need access to view, edit, and follow up on it. If a contract is being stored on an individual’s desktop, or worse yet in a file folder somewhere, it’s impossible for other parties to get that access to the most updated version.
Even if the document is shared with everyone involved on an online drive or everyone has the most current version stored somewhere in their email, collaboration is near impossible. Although most collaboration may take place before the document is signed, if a question comes up in the middle of a contract or a renewal rolls around, offline storage means going through the tedious email back and forth process again, with multiple versions floating around.
The ability to have all parties working together on a single version increases the capability to work together better and faster. Having a full audit trail of edits is important for legal purposes, and allows any questions on who said what to be easily answered and tracked.
If contracts aren’t stored in the cloud, not only are they more difficult to locate and collaborate on, but they’re likely much less secure. File cabinets and even computers aren’t safe from natural disasters or hacks. The cloud is the most secure level of storage for modern businesses. When handling sensitive information such as that contained in contracts, bank-level security should be a part of whatever platform is used.
Large cloud providers like Amazon and Microsoft provide secured off-site data warehouses with the sole purpose is storing and protecting data. Internally stored data is only as secure as the least reliable employee or IT contractor.
Simply storing an agreement versus tracking metadata such as renewals puts a company at risk. A full storage solution should contain contract management throughout the lifecycle of a document—which means well after signature. Regular reports of upcoming renewals should come well in advance of deadlines, with notifications so that teams can assess the value and possibilities for increased revenue gain at the time of expiration or renewal. Or discount potential on the buy side. Having a full picture of an organization’s contracts means being aware of everything that’s coming up to analyze where spend can be optimized through increased revenue and money saved.
6. The Solution
Contract storage isn’t just putting documents into a repository that keeps a decent record of company contracts, but a full picture into how contracts can work for an organization to increase revenue and improve operational efficiency.